Appendicitis is an emergency and often leads to the removal of the appendix, a slim organ that runs into the large intestine and along the abdomen. If the appendix becomes inflamed it can rupture and burst, which allows fecal matter to enter the abdomen, potentially spreading a life-threatening infection throughout the body. Appendicitis can occur in any age group, but older people are much more at risk for a rupture than younger individuals. The symptoms of appendicitis can start mild and may be difficult to spot in the early stages.
Pain near the navel or belly button is the first notable sign of appendicitis. It generally circles the navel in the beginning, and then, as the symptoms worsen, begins to spread throughout the abdomen. The pain typically starts with short bouts of achiness. As time progresses, the duration of each bout lengthens, as does its intensity. What was once described as sore, achy, or tender soon turns into a stabbing pain that could be warning of an impending rupture.
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